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Be An Odd & Extraordinary Leader

This weekend I had the honor of teaching leadership at The Gloucester Institute Emerging Leaders Program entitled. A Brand Called You.

This program assembles approximately thirty highly motivated African-American undergraduate students with excellent leadership potential. Over the course of the year, they are trained in leadership, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills.

On a Saturday afternoon, when most undergraduates are at a football game, this group of leaders was in a hotel conference room eager to learn how to be an extraordinary leader. We talked about the characteristics of the extraordinary leader – clarity of purpose, commitment to firm principles, dedication to the people they served – adding up to remarkable impact and legacy.

One astute student asked me this question:

Would these leadership characteristics work in any industry or are there some industries where they would fail? For example, would they work in the fashion or entertainment industries?

My answer: “Oh yes. These characteristics of leadership will work in any field. But if you choose to lead with purpose, principles, and a heart of service, you will be considered odd by those around you.”

Extraordinary leaders are few and far between, no matter what the industry. Today most of the celebrated leaders are what I call the Power Trip Leader. They are determined – determined to get powerful and rich.

In contrast, the Servant Leader is equally bold and ambitious, for the people and the enterprise they serve, not for themselves. These are the leaders with committed and passionate followers. These are the leaders that leave legacies by developing the next generation of leaders.

CAB at Glouster Institute

At the end of my teaching session, I had the privilege of meeting the Founder and President of The Gloucester Institute, the Honorable Kay Coles James. After an impressive career in business, education and government, today Kay James has committed her life to developing the next generation of African-American purpose-driven, principled leaders.

Kay James teaches skills like writing and speaking. She exposes the students to fine dining and the arts. She helps them with dressing for success. She teaches them the value of a commitment to marriage. She shares her faith. Her purpose is to leave a legacy of extraordinary leaders. And she is quietly doing just that.

Extraordinary leaders are so rare, we consider them odd. May there be more odd and extraordinary leaders.

0 Responses

  1. I would truly like to thank you for taking the time out to come and speak to us! I really enjoyed you personal stories on how your leadership values were formed!

    1. Dear Tokia,
      I so enjoyed being with you and the emerging leaders on Saturday. It was an honor.
      I wish you continued success as you become a leader of purpose and principles!

  2. Pretty impressive! When I think about the type of person I would like to emulate, you definitely top the list. Sometimes I wonder if I am making a difference and then I read your blog and think about the people in my life and I know that as long as I continue striving to be a servant leader, I am making a difference. Much thanks and appreciation for all the difference you are making in everyone’s life and especially mine. Your advice and guidance has helped me grow tremendously this year! Honored to know one of the few servant leaders who exists.

    1. Stephanie,
      Thank you for your kind words. Your feedback lets me know that this blog is helping young leaders grow in purpose and principles. Be encouraged in your leadership journey!

  3. I would like to thank you for sharing your time with us and giving us tips to be a phenomenial leader like yourself. I will apply all that I learned from that speech into my everyday life. I hope that I am able to hear from u again. Thank you again!

  4. I would like to truly thank you for taking time from your schedule to come and share with us your knowledge and experiences. I can speak for all of us when I say that it was truly appreciated. The information you shared with us was amazing, and I am sure that we will benefit from it greatly by incorporating it into our everyday lives. Continue to be a great and influential leader! I wish you the best in all that you wish to achieve. Thanks again!

  5. Dear Dondre,
    Thank you for your note. I am so glad that you found the session useful to you in your journey to purpose and principles. Best wishes,
    Cheryl Bachelder

  6. I would sincerely like to thank you for taking time out of your schedule in order to share your knowledge with us Emerging Leaders. You effectively communicated the importance of knowing your values and sticking to them, as well as how to be an active leader. I love the commitment plan as it is a great way to make sure we are not idle. Thank you so much, you are such an inspiration!

  7. Dear Mrs. Bachelder,

    Thank you for spending your weekend with us in Richmond. I wrote a research paper on Greenleaf’s concept of servant leadership last year and immediately became intrigued. To see and hear from a true servant leader who is successful, on the other hand, granted me a new level of excitement and hope. Thank you for your wisdom,

    Caleb Jackson
    Emerging Leader ’13-’14

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